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As TSA announces record number of travelers during pandemic, local airports also see an increase

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Posted at 4:28 AM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 07:58:28-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- More travelers are taking to the skies. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported 1.7 million air travelers, Mother's Day weekend - the highest so far since the pandemic started.

The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport also saw a bump in passengers. They saw a high of 167 over the same weekend, up from the 61 it saw last year this time, according to the airport's marketing director Jenifer Spratley.

"People have been getting vaccinated; people are more comfortable because it feels safer to travel now, although it is very safe to travel on an airplane," Spratley said.

Like other airports, the smallest of Hampton Roads' two international airports felt more of a brunt than did the larger Norfolk International Airport. Factors included Delta suspending all its service from the airport last May.

That suspension continues with the airline telling us in a statement:

“At this time we do not have a date to resume service to Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport. We are continuously monitoring demand trends and are rebuilding our network as demand resumes.”
Delta Airlines

Even recently, American Airlines pulled its service to Philadelphia, leaving Charlotte as the only destination.

"I think all airlines right now are trying to find the right decision to make to move forward in this new normal we’re experiencing," Spratley said.

Norfolk International Airport also saw a dip in passengers, but it saw new services during the pandemic such as the introduction of Boutique Air in November. It also saw the return of Delta flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport in April.

The number of passengers there was just over 3,000 this past weekend, but the airport said they predict the number to rise before Memorial Day weekend.

Meanwhile, Spratley said they are optimistic things will take off for Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

"The summer will be very strong because leisure is leading the way, and we’re hoping business travel will follow shortly after," Spratley said. "But this summer will be strong with leisure travel."

Spratley added that American Airlines will bring back additional flights this summer, and they also told us the airport is in talks with other airlines to bring service there.

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